After a year’s hiatus due to the pandemic, live summer theatre is returning to the Hope College campus.
The 49th season of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre will open on Friday, June 11, and feature six productions for audiences of all ages. The season will begin with “A Year with Frog and Toad” (June 11-Aug. 5), with openings following for “A Night of Music with Alex Thompson” (June 17-19), “Every Brilliant Thing” (June 24-July 30), “The Mountaintop” (July 1-10), “The Importance of Being Earnest” (July 15-24) and “Children of a Lesser God” (July 29-Aug. 5). Tickets go on sale on Friday, May 21.
To help mitigate the potential for the spread of COVID-19, all of the productions will be staged outside in the central campus near Dimnent Memorial Chapel. The location was selected after exploring numerous options such as a tent or alternate locations. However, due to numerous factors the location known also as “The Pine Grove” was selected. In addition, except for “A Year with Frog and Toad” and “Every Brilliant Thing,” the productions will have consecutive runs instead of taking place in the company’s traditional repertory format, to reduce the number of cast and crew involved in the season.
In keeping with the outdoor venue, members of the audience will be asked to bring their favorite blankets (rows 1-3) or lawn chairs (rows 4-plus) to sit on, although HSRT will also provide chairs for the handicapped seating area. Audience protocols will also include wearing masks, as required by the Actors’ Equity Association, with seating physically distanced in pods of four. [NOTE: As of June 11, the audience is no longer required to wear masks, although they remain strongly encouraged.]
“These differences are all based around health and safety, and to assure that everyone who performs in our shows, who attends are shows, are safe and healthy and comfortable so that we can all enjoy a great evening of live theatre,” said HSRT’s artistic director, Lenny Banovez, in a video message announcing the season posted on HSRT’s Facebook page.
Although the changes have been born of necessity, Banovez noted that the theatre company is approaching the outdoor location in particular as a chance to experience something new, and he hopes that the audience will feel the same way.
“I love our indoor spaces and I cannot wait to get back in them as soon as we can, but I would be lying if I were to say that there wasn’t part of me that was extremely excited to be doing outdoor theatre,” he said. “[E]very obstacle is an opportunity to be creative, and we will be embracing that fully this summer with outdoor theatre. So I hope you are as excited about that as I am.”
Last summer was the first time that HSRT didn’t stage a season since it began in 1972. “Children of a Lesser God” is being presented with support through a 2020 Challenge America grant to HSRT from the National Endowment for the Arts that would originally have helped underwrite the show last year. “A Year with Frog and Toad” and “Every Brilliant Thing” were also previously on the schedule for 2020.
Single tickets and season-ticket packages are available.
Individual tickets for “An Evening with Alex Thompson,” “Every Brilliant Thing,” “The Mountaintop,” “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Children of a Lesser God” are $30 for regular admission, $27 for senior citizens and members of the college’s faculty and staff, and $15 for children under the age of 18. Tickets for “A Year with Frog and Toad” are $15 for all ages.
The Best Buy Package offers seating for “Every Brilliant Thing,” “The Mountaintop,” “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “Children of a Lesser God” for only $98 for regular admission, $89 for senior citizens and Hope faculty and staff, and $50 for students. The Flex Package offers four tickets in any combination for $110.
Individual tickets and packages may be purchased through the ticket office in the Events and Conferences Office located downtown in the Anderson-Werkman Financial Center (100 E. Eighth St.). The office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and can be called at 616-395-7890. Tickets can also be purchased online through hope.edu/hsrt
Hope Summer Repertory Theatre is West Michigan’s premiere professional theatre company. HSRT produces plays and educational programs of the highest professional standards that address the needs of, and enhance the quality of life for, Hope College and the community. The company features a unique blend of distinguished professionals and young theatre artists from across the country.
More about HSRT is available at hope.edu/hsrt
Hope College Summer Repertory Theatre 2021
A Year with Frog and Toad: June 11 – Aug. 5;
Book & Lyrics by Willie Reale Music by Robert Reale
7:30 p.m. June 11; 1:30 p.m. June 12, 16, 23, 25, 30, July 6, 8, 19, Aug. 3, 5;
10:30 a.m. June 18, July 12, 15, 27
Based on the Frog and Toad series of books by Arnold Lobel. A whimsical show follows two great friends - the cheerful, popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad – through four fun-filled seasons. The two best friends celebrate and rejoice in the differences that make them unique and special. Part vaudeville, part make-believe...all charm, A Year with Frog and Toad tells the story of a friendship that endures throughout the seasons.
A Night of Music with Alex Thompson: June 17 - 19
7:30 p.m., June 17, 18, 19
A Musical Cabaret! Join HSRT’s Resident Music Director with special guests from the HSRT Company for an evening of songs and stories ranging from drama to comedy and everything in between.
Every Brilliant Thing: June 24 - July 30; Written by Duncan MacMillan with Jonny Donahoe
7:30 p.m. June 24, 25, 26, 29, July 19, 20, 27, 28, 30; 1:30 p.m., July 22
Mom’s in the hospital. She’s “done something stupid.” So, you start a list of everything that’s brilliant and worth living for. 1. Ice cream 2. Water fights 3. Staying up past your bedtime. You leave it on her pillow, hoping, and you add it to the list throughout your life. This one-man, funny, and moving play is a tribute to resilience and hope—as it enlists the audience to tell this heartfelt story. Every Brilliant Thing shines a hilarious and compassionate light on dark corners of the human condition.
The Mountaintop: July 1 – 10; Written by Kohari Hall
7:30 p.m. July 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; 1:30 p.m. July 10
A gripping reimagination of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On April 3, 1968, after delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious stranger arrives with some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.
The Importance of Being Earnest: July 15 - July 24; Written by Oscar Wilde
7:30 p.m. July 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24; 1:30 p.m. July 21
The Importance of Being Earnest is the most renowned of Oscar Wilde’s comedies, known for its rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters. It’s the story of two bachelors, John ‘Jack’ Worthing and Algernon ‘Algy’ Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives. They attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest. The pair struggle to keep up with their own stories and become tangled in a tale of deception, disguise, and misadventure. The elaborate plot ridicules Victorian sensibilities with some of the best-loved, and indeed bizarre, characters to be found on the modern stage.
Children of a Lesser God: July 29 – Aug. 5; By Mark Medoff
7:30 p.m. July 29, 31, Aug. 2, 3, 4, 5; 1:30 p.m. July 30, Aug. 4
This Tony, Olivier, and Drama Desk Award-winning play explores the divide between the Deaf and hearing communities, as well as those elements of life that connect us all as it follows the poignant love story between a speech therapist and his former student. All performances of Children of a Lesser God will be open-captioned. This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.